10 tips for writing antagonists, 17 ways to make your novel more memorable, Amanda Patterson, amandaonwriting tumblr, antagonists, characters as people, conflict in plot, creativity tips, fiction writing conflict test, logladys on tumblr, novel, screw writing strong women, Writers Write, writing
One of the fun things about NaNoWriMo was that it drove me more often to websites that have writing and creativity tips. I really like this tumblr site called amandaonwriting, because she posts quotes, tips, writing prompts and a lot of fun stuff.
Here are a few neat tests to run through with your novel:
I personally like tip 5, 6 and 15, because they address common problems I’ve seen in workshops. I know made the mistake mentioned in number five, because in the early drafts of my novel, I had no clue where I was going with this story and it’s obvious in the text. At the time I was so caught up in fleshing out my protagonist and figuring out why I was writing about her.
– (5) Start your novel at the end of the backstory you’ve created. Begin with a breath-taking inciting moment. Something should happen that leads to a revelation of a shocking fact, a surprising insight, or a unique perspective. The protagonist’s status quo must change and he or she needs to act or react. Move your story forward. Don’t look back.
– (6) Include only the most important parts of the story. Your novel is a lot like a highlights package of an episode in a person’s life. Cut out the boring bits. Move us from one exciting scene to another. Don’t constantly review your characters’ actions and feelings because nobody cares.
– (15) Give your protagonist and your antagonist story goals. These story goals should be in conflict with each other. Tell a story where your readers can empathise with both your hero and your villain. Make both of them memorable and interesting.
* Don’t focus on writing characters who are strong. (I’ve seen this on Tumblr several times and I think it’s worth mentioning. Whoever wrote this, thank you.)
Screw writing “strong” women. Write interesting women. Write well-rounded women. Write complicated women. Write a woman who kicks ass, write a woman who cowers in a corner. Write a woman who’s desperate for a husband. Write a woman who doesn’t need a man. Write women who cry, women who rant, women who are shy, women who don’t take no shit, women who need validation and women who don’t care what anybody thinks. THEY ARE ALL OKAY, and all those things could exist in THE SAME WOMAN. Women shouldn’t be valued because we are strong, or kick-ass, but because we are people. So don’t focus on writing characters who are strong.Write characters who are people.
* For the last one in this post, I hereby introduce 10 Essential Tips for Writing Antagonists, because those suckers are damn hard to write well.
- The antagonist is the character who MOST stands in the way of the protagonist achieving the story goal.
- He or she is known as the villain but need not be evil.
- The antagonist’s goal is in direct conflict with the goal of the protagonist.
- It is better if your villain is a person, not a force of nature (earthquake, flood), a group (gang, big company) or a general life condition (poverty, corruption).
- The antagonist should be equal in strength to your protagonist in order to fight a good fight.
- The best antagonist is someone who already plays a part in your protagonist’s life.
- Create a character whose motivation for opposing the protagonist’s story goal is as strong and logical as the hero’s reason for opposing the antagonist’s goal.
- The antagonist does not have to work from a negative motivation. If the roles were reversed the villain could become the protagonist.
- A great antagonist believes that his motivations are valid and his actions justified.
- Never create an antagonist who exists merely to obstruct the lead. You will end up with a shallow stereotypical character.